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Nine Centuries of ManManhood and Masculinity in Scottish History$
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Lynn Abrams and Elizabeth L. Ewan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474403894

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403894.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021

Negotiating Independence: Manliness and Begging Letters in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland

Negotiating Independence: Manliness and Begging Letters in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland

Chapter:
(p.142) 7 Negotiating Independence: Manliness and Begging Letters in Late Eighteenth- and Early Nineteenth-Century Scotland
Source:
Nine Centuries of Man
Author(s):

Katie Barclay

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474403894.003.0008

Begging letters provide a rich source for historians of the poor, who have used them to explore their lives, constructions of identity, and regional variation in charitable giving. The rhetoric of benevolence and gratitude that pervades them, however, has often been dismissed as ‘inauthentic’ or as interfering with our access to the words of the poor. This chapter explores how Scottish beggars used the language of gratitude in their letters to patrons, contributing to both a history of letter-writing and masculinity amongst the poor. It highlights the way that an emotional-charitable language placed patron and client in a hierarchical social relationship that brought benefits to both parties. It argues that, rather than being an unmanly act, begging could provide space for poor or subordinate men to articulate their masculine identities within a society where social hierarchies were normal and understood as key to social order.

Keywords:   masculinity, Scotland, begging, letters, emotion, social hierarchies, language, poor

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